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How to protect yourself from theft outside of the home

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Historically, thieves have always targeted people outside of their homes, where pedestrians and commuters are naturally the most vulnerable to muggings, scams, and pickpocketing.

Only last week, national treasure and comedian Michael MacIntyre was targeted by moped-assisted thieves while carrying out the daily school-run, proving that even the most popular celebrities are susceptible to attacks.

Although there is no way to fully protect yourself from thieves, there are cautionary measures that a person can take to reduce their chances of becoming a thief’s next victim.

Travel in well-lit areas

Thieves are more likely to operate in areas that are less well-lit since the darkness obscures any identifiable features and makes it easier to approach a person without being seen. When commuting, it is safer to travel via routes that are well-lit by street lamps and avoid dark or narrow streets where thieves can easily strike.

Travel in a group or in busy areas

Although particularly busy areas such as tourist sites are the haunting grounds of professional pickpockets, it is usually safer to travel through populated areas where other pedestrians can also keep an eye out for unwanted crime or suspicious behaviour. Walking with a buddy or within a group is a great deterrent to thieves who tend to pick on isolated individuals who are naturally more vulnerable.

Ditch headphones

Listening to music or videos using headphones dramatically reduces spatial awareness, leaving you less likely to sense unusual behaviour around you.

Avoid using mobile devices on-the-go

Similarly to headphones, mobile devices reduce spatial awareness and single you out as an ideal victim for theft. Mobile phones and tablets are compact, expensive items which are desirable since they can be easily snatched and carried away, so it is best to keep valuables in a bag or deep pocket.

Alternatively, step into a safe environment such as a café or shop when you need to use your device.

Familiarise yourself with ploys commonly used by thieves

Thieves are renowned for using the same tricks to steal your belongings. By familiarising yourself with common ploys, you are less likely to fall victim to an attack. One hack frequently employed by thieves is to shove a person from behind and snatch their handbag while their arms are outstretched. This can be prevented by remembering to hug your arms to your chest.

Be vigilant of street scams

Often overlooked, street scams are a big source of money for thieves and fall into the category of daylight robbery. Always be vigilant of individuals approaching you in the street asking for spare change or bothering you until you give “charitable” donations. Many of these schemes are fake, designed to elicit money from compassionate and trusting citizens.

In the event of a crime call the police

Police are trained to deal with crimes involving theft and should be your first port-of-call if you become a victim. Confronting or chasing down a thief can be potentially dangerous; instead, call 999 and report the crime to an officer, or call 101 in non-emergencies.

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